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Economics and the Law

Economics and the Law

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The last several decades have witnessed the development of diverse approaches to the evolving field of Law and Economics. Each school of thought within Law and Economics has helped both to redefine the study of law and to expose the important economic implications of the legal environment. Here, Nicholas Mercuro and Steven Medema present a valuable, concise overview of the current perspectives and varied traditions that constitute the field. The authors make clear that Law and Economics is not a homogeneous movement by deftly illuminating the several competing and yet complementary traditions, including the Chicago School of Law and Economics, Public Choice Theory, Institutional and Neo-Institutional Law and Economics, the New Haven School, and Modern Civic Republicanism, as well as the challenge to Law and Economics posed by Critical Legal Studies. By providing readers with a noncritical description of the broad contours of each school of thought, Mercuro and Medema convey a strong sense of the important elements of each of these interrelated yet varied traditions.

The authors define Law and Economics broadly to include the application of economic theory (primarily microeconomics and the basic concepts of welfare economics) to the formation, structure, processes, and economic impact of law and legal institutions. Because the law and the economy interact across a variety of fronts, the fundamental insights of this burgeoning field have important implications, not only for economics and the law, but also for those in contiguous disciplines such as political science, public administration, and sociology.